PORTLAND, Me. -- Thousands of Mainers are about to carve pumpkins in jack-o-lanterns. Professional carver Moe Auger has some tips for amateurs.
"Cutting out the bottom first and then cleaning it out is simpler," said Auger. "All I have to do is put a candle down and sit my pumpkin right on top of it."
Auger started carving for fun. He kept taking on bigger and bigger projects and recently carved a 900 pound jack-o-lantern at the Damariscotta Pumpkin Fest.
Auger uses potter tools to skin the pumpkin. He also shaves the inside so the pumpkin becomes translucent.
His first determination is what part of "jack's" face will be closest to the viewer. He then carves around it making sure not to go too deeply into the pulp because the pumpkin becomes mushy.
"You can draw your subject right on the pumpkin," said Auger who will carve an enormous pumpkin at the Pine Tree Camp Pumpkin Festival this Saturday at L. L. Bean in Freeport.
He jokes that if you make a mistake, there's no going back. "That's just the pumpkin telling you it wants to be something different."
When the pumpkin is complete, he will spray it daily inside and out with a mixture that is 1/3 bleach and 2/3 water. This will kill any fungus growing on the pumpkin and will enable the jack-o-lantern to last up to ten days or so.
He uses a light bulb to illuminate his big pumpkins. He also cuts vents in the top if he is using a candle. "That pumpkin smell is something great in the fall. Fire is not!